Well, it's finally happening! I fly out to China next Friday, and I'll be visiting both Shanghai and Hong Kong Disneylands! What last-minute advice do you have for me?
Shanghai:- Don't miss the Camp Discovery trails. Best thing in the park!- If the park stays open after the fireworks, the queues will drain for Tron and Pirates in particular. That's a great time to binge rides on either of those.- Avoid the back row on Tron; it's the only one that isn't motorbike-style seating.
HK:- Take your time and adjust expectations. The park is small, intimate and charming. When I approached it with that frame of mind (rather than Magic Kingdom style bombast) I found I appreciated it a lot more.- Do lunch at the Explorer's Club, for both the food and the excellent decor. (Take some time to explore it.) I also remember having some good grilled squid from a street stall in Adventureland, FWIW.- Make conversation with cast members. The ones I interacted with seemed genuinely excited to share the park with a Westerner (I guess they don't get too many) and often pointed out little details or gave me little "plussed" experiences where they could. (They were very insistent that I should ride Mystic Manor from each of the three positions, for instance.)
These are fantastic suggestions! Thank you, Ben!
Shanghai Disneyland no longer has Fastpass kiosks so you need to download the app in order to use the Fastpass system. And your going to want to do this because Shanghai's crowds/operations are unpredictable (to put it nicely).
That's a great tip! Thank you!
Are you staying on-site at Shanghai Disney?
We stayed at Shanghai Disneyland Hotel. It was quite nice. The cast members were all very friendly and helpful despite the occasional language barrier. They helped us link our tickets to the app so that we could save time once we got into the park. The walk to the park from the hotel is deceptively long but pleasant nonetheless. We walked to the park our first morning and found that we were being routed all the way to the Metro station and back along with the day guests coming from the parking lot before we could get through to the Disneytown entrance. This was an unexpected detour that we could have avoided by taking the resort bus, which drops off guests almost immediately nearby the Disneytown park entrance. We made a point to be at our resort bus stop before 7:00AM to catch the first bus out.
If nothing else we learned that staying on-site is a HUGE advantage for touring the park, especially in the morning. Being able to pre-book one FastPass for each park day is quite nice. We used ours for Soaring Over the Horizon since it generally has the longest stand-by times. The early entry in the morning provides a distinct advantage as well. Each morning we were able to enter the park by 7:30AM (with 8:00AM being official park opening) and begin booking FastPasses as soon as we were through the gate. This allowed us to book FPs for major attractions like TRON, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, or Roaring Rapids within the first hour, which meant our window to book again came up not long after the park officially opening. Having all of that secured feels pretty good as you watch all of the times rocket up as the day guests enter the gate and start booking FPs.
After being let in at 7:30AM each morning we were held at the Gardens of Imagination ("the hub") until around 7:40AM. We were then released to go anywhere we liked in the park. For the most part attractions wait until official park opening to start admitting guests but we were able to ride Roaring Rapids, Winnie the Pooh, and Peter Pan starting at 7:45AM on each of our mornings. There is a chance other attractions might start operating early. We weren't sure if it was a matter of the crews being ready or if it was officially scheduled that way.
With the early starts and hotel FP we were able to start the day with FPs for Soaring and Seven Dwarfs while squeezing in early rides on Roaring Rapids, the Toy Story Land attractions, and/or Fantasyland dark rides before 8:15AM. And since our booking window would open with our early Seven Dwarfs FP we could secure a TRON FP before 9:00AM. It felt pretty good. I doubt we would have been able to secure as much if we had to process through the front gate with the day guests at the regular park opening time.
It is worth noting that while the park states that you can only book up to three FPs a day we were able to book four FPs (along with the additional hotel FP) before the app stopped showing us available times. It was hard to tell if all of the times had been truly booked up or if the app was throttling us a bit. Either way we were pleasantly surprised that we were able to get one beyond the first three.
Our trip was in May 2018, so hopefully a lot of what played out for us is still the case now.
Thanks Tim! The trip was incredible, and everything you mentioned totally matches my experience. The one downside is the hotel staff never actually mentioned the early entry benefit of staying on property (I stayed at the Toy Story Hotel), but, since I'm in the habit of showing up early anyway, I ended up discovering it. It truly is a fantastic, gigantic park!
Ben - Thanks for the tip on the Explorers Club! That restaurant was fantastic, and so detailed. HKDL was definitely the highlight of the trip!
I'm wondering if perhaps your Tron back row experience was on the train that accommodates special physical needs? I rode in the back row multiple times with the same seating as the rest of the train. Though, I much preferred the front row - far more air time and the excitement of not seeing where the train is going (well, the first time, at least - it's pretty easy to predict after that, haha).
Thanks again for all your help. The trip was incredible!
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